Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 7, 1968
NUMBER 43, PAGE 1-3a

Crisis At Home

Leslie Diestelkamp

Today's "Daily Times" here in Nigeria tells an unusual story. The front-page headline says, "Now No Drinking Before 12 Noon." It is the story of a decree by the military governor of the Mid-West State. He is making a determined effort to stamp out corruption and delinquency in his state. One has to admire his sincerity. He expressed grave concern over deterioration of morals among "our young ones," and he observed that a growing tendency toward indiscipline had resulted in a sharp increase in juvenile delinquency. Consequently the governor has ordered the arrest of any girl found loitering in the "streets, roads, nooks and corners" in certain areas of Benin City.

But in spite of my sympathy for the governor and my agreement with the high ideals he seeks to uphold, it is evident that he is not aware of the real source of his trouble. His crisis is not really in the "streets, roads, nooks and corners" but in the homes of Benin City.

It is indeed a pity when a sincere but misguided African soldier thinks he can make a decree — a military law — that will curb delinquency among the youth of his state.

But, this morning even before I cast aside the mosquito net and climbed out of bed to get the "Daily Times," I had lain there for some time awaiting the dawn and thinking of things I have been reading TIME and NEWSWEEK. These magazines, which are brought here by air and which we receive almost as quickly as you do in America, are about our only way of keeping up with events in our own beloved country. And what we read is not good news! We are made aware of a great change in the ever-present delinquency problem there, as well as here in Africa.

New Vocabulary

Many words we read in our magazines require that we discern their meaning by their usage, for they were not learned in our school days long ago nor are they defined in our fifteen-year-old dictionary which we brought along here.

But when we read of the "Hippie" movement, with the addiction to dope, the amazing rebellion against authority, the frequent abandonment of home, the common rejection of parental oversight or even parental advice, and the utter defiance of any moral standard, we realize that the crisis in America is not in the brothels, the ghettos, the slums, the schools or the jails, but the crisis there, as here, is in the homes.

To Write This, Or Not To Write

Every preacher knows the danger involved in trying to speak or write regarding the responsibility of parents. People will say, "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones." Indeed, all of us err so much as parents that it hardly befits any of us to try to advise the rest of us! But, in full awareness of my own weakness, and without any pretense whatsoever of excellence as a parent, I must still make a fervent plea to God's people who are parents. It is a plea in behalf of your children, and thus indirectly in behalf of the church of tomorrow.

As a stranger to them I cannot appeal to your children. If my deep concern for them is to be beneficial, the children must be reached through the parents, for,

"The Lambs will follow the sheep, you know, Wherever the sheep may stray,

When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long, Till the lambs are as wrong as they.

"And so for the sheep I earnestly plead.

For the sake of the lambs, today, If the sheep are lost, what a terrible cost,

The lambs will have to pay."

(author unknown)

There is surely no hidden, secret remedy for the ills of modern home life, and it is impossible to give a certain set of rules that will guarantee success. Paul said, "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Yet Paul's words are not easily translated into fruitful experiences in the day-to-day problems of parents.

I know that parents must always ponder questions of discipline, correction and encouragement. "Is this just mischief, or is it meanness?" Will you ignore something as a childish prank or will you punish the child for a misdemeanor? What rules you make, and how firm will you be? These and many more are the questions which I do not attempt to answer herein.

A One-Word Formula Surely the one word that most nearly describes the problem and that most completely comprehends the cure to the crisis in the homes is "Time." Too many parents don't have time for their children today. Mother can hardly wait until she gets home from the hospital, not that she wants to stay at home, but she has already missed 2 or 3 meetings of the Garden Club. The Bridge Club is missing her too. She is badly needed to help with the program of the Woman's Club. And she must not fail the P.T.A. Besides that, she probably has a job, for after all she must help pay the hospital bill, and her wages are needed to meet the payments of the new color T.V. The Baby? Oh, a "sitter" will have to be hired, of course, Edgar A. Guest wrote:

There are mothers who imagine, Life could give them, if it would,

Something better, something richer, Than the joys of motherhood."

And fathers? "Time" is their problem too. Morning, noon and night everyone must hurry.

And then there is golf, fishing, bowling. Or there may be a second job to help pay for a new car, a boat or a bigger house.

And so the children grow from infancy to school age, and from that to teen-agers, and all the while they hardly know their parents. There is little companionship between parents and children. Often their only common association is in watching the same T. V. show, and some even avoid that with separate T. V. sets! Though I haven't heard it, I am told the Beatles have a song in which they sing,

"She's leaving home After living alone

For so many years."

I suppose they shared the same address and stored their clothes under the same roof, but they didn't really Eve together!

Preachers may be among the worst to neglect their children. But of course there are souls to save! So we don't have time for the family; Yes, it is true, there are souls to save, but there are others to lose, and, preachers or not, if we are parents God has charged us first with our own. (Eph. 5: 22-33; 6:1-4; Col. 3: 18-21 ;Prov. 22:6). In fact every parent needs to realize two things: (1) The parent has more responsibility for his child than anyone else has for that child; (2) The parent has more responsibility to his child than the parent has to anyone else.

But preachers are not alone in neglect. Others do it who have even less excuse. Usually parental neglect is motivated by desire for money or worldly pleasure.

Get Acquainted

Before it is too late, why not have a get-acquainted party with your whole family? You say you don't have time? Take time!

If you are a preacher or a farmer, a doctor or a machinist, a lawyer or a laborer, a salesman or a housewife, or whatever you may be, take time to know your family, to love them, to appreciate them, to lead and guide them every day.

Parents need to take time to talk with their children (I did not say to talk to them). Work with them, not just for them. Play with them, laugh with them, cry with them — indeed live with them!

Do it today! and don't dismiss the party after a few minutes of togetherness today. Tomorrow resume it again. And the next day too. Make it a habit. And don't play with the children a few minutes so you can go work, but go work all day so you can play with the children!

Make home the most cherished place for all the family. Live with your children in such a way that they would rather be with you than with anyone else. Help them to feel that the family circle is the most secure place in all the world.

Don't worry about them being over-sheltered. It will be better for them to be over-sheltered than to be beaten by the storm of sin they were not prepared to withstand. But don't make the family circle a forced shelter, but rather the one that is sought, for every creature naturally seeks protective shelter. Your son or daughter seeks it too. They cannot find it in a house you purchase, but they can secure it in a companionship you provide.

Those who would give the proper time to their families must also do this in real sincerity. Children will detect any hypocrisy. If your son asks you to play ball with him and you do so reluctantly, he will receive little good from the association. But parents ought not to wait to be asked to associate with their children. And whatever the venture is, learn to enjoy it with them and then they will enjoy it with you. If your family association is a burden to you, the children will know it and they will seek a more agreeable companionship, good or bad.

So, be sincere with the children. Your son won't enjoy wrestling with you if you "let him win," but if he gets too big for you, turn to chess or checkers. And then beat him good! And if you can't beat him, try very hard anyway, and he will enjoy it and respect you for it. He won't enjoy winning something he didn't deserve, and he will rather lose than to have a hypocrite for a father.

A recent TIME essay suggest that families need a common problem or challenge in which all can share. They suggest tutoring slum children, restoring old houses, building a summer cabin, or "save the hoot owl, collect thunder eggs, build a telescope," etc. Finally the writer says, if you still lack a common crisis, "Hire a wolf to howl at your door." But you can go on a picnic, go camping or take them to the farm. You can talk politics or sports with them too, provided you develop enough interest in the subject matter to discuss it in sincerity. The world is full of projects waiting to be done by family units.


When you have walked with the children, talked with them, worked with them and played with them, the most important part of your family association still remains undone. You need a little more of that precious time to worship with them!

It takes dedication and determination to do it, but every family needs a few minutes every day to worship God in quietness. This needs to be a time when even the little ones learn to sit still and everyone gives attention while someone reads from God's Word and leads in prayer. This need not be a long, burdensome boresome task. It can be a joyful, happy relief and release from the turmoil of the world. If properly developed it need not be a forced activity but it will rather soon become an expected, accepted and attractive participation. Many parents have waited too long and cannot now secure the cooperation of their nearly grown children. I appeal to the younger parents: before your baby can understand what you read or what you pray, develop the regular practice of daily family devotions. You will never regret the time thus utilized.

When mothers and fathers learn to give more time, yes when they actually give more of their lives to the family circle, then the crisis at home will diminish, anxieties will be fewer, joy will be more widespread and heaven will be more secure.

— P.O. Box 498, Yaba, Nigeria